Research In Motion finds itself in a disconcerting position. On one hand, it has a huge business that will need to continue to churn out mobile products to keep its people employed and its customers satisfied. But on the other hand, its products are losing their appeal in the marketplace, and so far, even with a new CEO in Thorsten Heins, the mobile firm has no ability to turn things around. Investors, analysts and even employees are concerned that RIMs future is dour, at best.
A key component in RIMs failures lately is its poor performance in the tablet space. Tablet sales are expected to explode in the coming years, and RIM doesnt have the devicethe BlackBerry PlayBookto capitalize on that boom.
Now, reports are swirling, claiming the company will launch a new version of its tablet sometime this year. Details on the device are slim at this point, but chances are, itll ship with BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0, the latest version of the companys tablet software, which launched Feb. 21. Its also quite likely the tablet will focus heavily on enterprise customers.
1. Look at the first version
In order for future tablets to succeed, their predecessors must sell well. Unfortunately for RIM, its BlackBerry PlayBook is having a tough time on store shelves. And those that bought the device havent been so impressed. Given that, how can RIM expect its next tablet to succeed?
2. The enterprise doesnt care
RIM said last year when it launched the BlackBerry PlayBook that it was trying to appeal to the enterprise. Theres just one issue: The enterprise doesnt care about the device. When the BlackBerry PlayBook 2 launches, it too will try to target enterprise users, and theyll likely turn their backs.
3. Consumers really dont care
If the enterprise is ignoring the BlackBerry PlayBook, consumers are really against the device. Right now, only Apples iPad, the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Samsung Galaxy Tabs are successful. Beyond that, consumers couldnt care less about the tablets on store shelves. Thats bad news for RIMand its even worse news for its next PlayBook.
4. RIM seems ready to sell
After all the turmoil RIM has faced over the last several months and its declining stock price weighing heavily on investors minds, the company seems closer than ever to selling off its hardware business. If and when that happens, itll make it even harder for the next PlayBook to succeed.
RIMs Operating System Just Doesnt Hold Up to iOS
5. The operating system isnt there
RIMs BlackBerry OS falls short in every way. The operating systems design is sub-par, the built-in applications are hardly useful and the virtual keyboard is a disappointment. Although hardware design matters, the way in which an operating system functions is far more important. And unfortunately for RIM, its operating system just doesnt hold up to iOS.
6. BlackBerry OS 2.0 isnt enough
Following that, its important to point out that the next PlayBook will likely ship with BlackBerry OS 2.0. That operating system, which launched Feb. 21, finally adds the native email, calendar and contacts support BlackBerry PlayBook owners have been begging for, but it still lacks native support for BlackBerry Messenger and BlackBerry Enterprise Server. How will those limitations help the next PlayBook appeal to customers?
7. The iPad 3 looms
Apples iPad 3 is reportedly going to be unveiled early next month. And when that happens, the next PlayBook will have an all-new device itll need to worry about. Unfortunately for RIM, however, the iPad 3 is expected to be a major step up over Apples current slate. As long as the iPad is on store shelves, the PlayBook 2 wont succeed.
8. So does the Kindle Fire
RIM must always be worried about Amazon. The e-commerce giant came on the tablet scene fast and furious last year with the launch of its Kindle Fire. This year, Amazon is expected to refresh its $199 tablet and deliver a bigger, more expensive version. The Kindle Fire will severely limit RIMs chances of appealing to customers who want a 7-inch tablet.
9. The apps arent there
RIMs BlackBerry PlayBook 2 will come with support for the companys BlackBerry App World. Theres just one issue: The BlackBerry App World is the marketplace developers have been content to ignore. According to most researchers, that wont change anytime soon, making the apps available to the next PlayBook far less desirable than those found on other platforms.
10. Trust is a major issue
At the end of the day, consumers and enterprise users want to know that they can trust a company. Over the last couple years, those stakeholders have lost trust in RIM as the company delivers outdated products. Last years BlackBerry services outage didnt help matters, either. Trust is a major issue for RIM right now. And itll hurt PlayBook 2 adoption.